By Jenn Bruer
When living grainlessly, there are a whole list of friendly flours, but first it’s important to note that these flours are calorie dense; they are however FAR less inflammatory and irritating to the gut than the usual grain flours. We need to be cautious even with grainless baked goods as they are often loaded with sugar. Although, having these goodies, especially around social events and special occasions, is important because it makes us feel less deprived. Limit these treats because of the sugar content, but know that you can control the ingredients AND the sugar 🙂
Almond flour- this is a favorite Paleo flour substitute and there are plenty of recipes to go around. I personally use “ground almonds”, sometimes known as “almond meal”, because it’s cheaper than flour. The difference is that almond FLOUR is more finely milled. Ground almonds usually include the whole almond as apposed to removing the skin. Almond meal is good for things like breads and pancakes but a finely milled almond flour will give you better results in baked goods like cookies, pie shells etc. and adds a much nicer white colour to certain recipes. The general rule of thumb is to sub almond flour for wheat flour in a 1:1 ratio. Almond flour can sometimes be a little wet as it doesn’t absorb as much moisture as other flours so I always use a tsp of coconut flour to offset the moisture (because coconut is quite absorbent). When I make breads or loaves I always double bake them (like for example, I bake a loaf and then slice it and place it back in the over for an additional 10 minutes before serving, to dry it out a little more). Double baking is by no means necessary though.
Coconut flour- this has an amazing flavour but is very absorbent so it can be rather hard to work with and has a tendency for leaving foods crumbly and dry. I prefer to use this flour with another and not on it’s own. Coconut flour is high in fiber and has a nice coconut flavour. This is best used with a very wet recipe; great for shortbread type recipes! There is no safe exchange ratio when replacing coconut flour to wheat flour as it depends greatly on the moisture level.
Arrowroot flour- this is mostly used as a starch and is great for thickening sauces. Arrowroot powder can replace corn starch in recipes using a 1:1 ratio.
Tapioca flour- this starch comes from ground cassava and adds elasticity to baking and helps bind.
Plantain flour- this is ground dehydrated plantain. Let me know if you see this around, I’d love to try it.
Sunflower seed flour- for those allergic to nuts or just almonds, sunflower seed flour can be used the same as almond flour. When you use it in conjunction with baking soda, it has a reaction and turns green – safe to eat but a complete turnoff to me. Mind you, if I was allergic to nut flours, I’d consider it a viable option.
Hazelnut flour- this can also be used the same as almond flour.
Pumpkin seed flour- another seed alternative to almond flour.
Pureed green plantains- green plantains are very starchy, and can act as a great binder in baking. There are plenty of plantain recipes out there from crackers to cookies; I have tried plantain crackers and they were terrific and crunchy!
Any nut can be made into a flour, adding an array of various flavours, textures and colours to foods.
Now go bake some gluten free yummies!